Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Giving A Rat's Ass About Running

This sister is what you'd call a "people person." I like doing things together, including running. And yes, I read all your blogs about the solace and inspiration found running alone with your thoughts in the pre-dawn hours. But I prefer to gauge my breathing by the huff and puff of conversation, to engage in the friendly competition that comes, albeit mostly in my head, that you get running with a friend or partner. And my lifestyle mostly accommodates this preference. My in-laws live in our house, so my husband and I are hard-pressed to find an excuse not to run in the pre-dawn hours, or after-hours, or really whenever the old folks are not at the Village Inn.

(This is the part where all the runners with children throw eggs at my blog in bitter jealousy that I have built-in caregivers to help whenever I want to run).

Alas, I have reached the point in both my academic and physical fitness journey where I need to embrace the solitary run. I've been on my doctoral journey for four and a half years, taking classes, seminars, partnering in research projects, and basically doing everything that an academic can do with other people before the final lap: The Dissertation. I remember a conversation with my assistantship supervisor when I began writing and wanted advice. She said, simply, "If you don't give a rat's ass about your dissertation, no one else will." Kind of like running. No matter the goal, you can train with partners, follow a training guide, fuel and hydrate based on the experts' advice, but when it's race day, it's all you.

So I get up every morning, make coffee, and head to school to write for a minimum of four hours at a time. That's the promise I made to myself. Four hours a day, five days a week, no matter what. Some days I stare at the blinking cursor and the clock on the wall, willing the words to appear on the page and the hours to pass more quickly. Other days, the words and hours fly and I can't wait to come back the next day. It's mostly uphill and mentally exhausting, but I really, really want those three letters that come at the finish line: PhD. So I keep at it.

Now, running alone? That's my next challenge. How do I make the same sort of commitment to my physical self? My husband and I have found a good routine on the weekends, getting up and going for a run, planning our Saturday as we huff and puff, running toward that hot cup of coffee and sleepy-head toddler waiting for us at the finish line. But the weekdays are sporadic, still not in a solid routine that works for both of us so we end up with a couple days a week. So, this week's challenge is to find a routine that works for me. Because, after all, if I don't give a rat's ass about my, well, ass, who will?


  1. I miss you, sistah! Even adding two extra days a week would be great. Tuesdays and Thursdays? Maybe two of the days you write, you could run first? I bet you'd have more to write with the extra time to think about it while you run :)

  2. Maybe run after you write? 4 hours in a seat exercising the muscle between your ears might be served well with a little "mindless" running. I am so enjoying following the journey of you "Sole Sisters" - I'm a little jealous! :)

  3. I have, and always will, care about your ass, E.

  4. I like a combination of both -- I have a workout partner on Tuesday and Thursday, but go by myself on other days. That's how I liked writing my dissertation. Although all too often my writing partner was a bag of crunchy Cheetos. Hence the need for more attention to my ass now!